It’s time to address the age-old question: Is comedy subjective? Here’s our take.
- Humor isn’t something black and white we can all understand at first glance
- Varying factors like demographic age and geographic location can lead to humor subjectivity
- Comedy can be both objective and subjective
- Often, it’s up to the individual to find something funny or not
#1. What Does It Mean For Something To Be Subjective?
Humor is an art. When you hear something funny, you either like it or you don’t. But it can also be much more complex than that.
Comedy is a type of art that is much more difficult to get right. It can be a lengthy process to pull off a joke that people actually find funny.
All in all, there’s no surefire way to be funny. Lots of people think that humor is a talent you’re born with. However, we believe it is possible to learn comedy and awaken your funny side!
But if you’re going to dive into the rabbit hole of comedy, you need to understand the age-old question of whether comedy is subjective or not.
But what does subjectivity really mean?
If something is subjective, it is based on the individual and their personal beliefs or experiences. That means that if comedy is subjective, people will only regard things that coincide with their background or culture as funny.
But, of course, this idea is much more complex than what we just laid out.
So, what makes humor subjective?
#2. What Can Determine The Subjectivity Of Humor?
When breaking down the question of whether comedy is subjective, we need to understand what could make it subjective.
So if humor and comedy are only contingent on an individual’s background or personal experiences, then we need to know what qualities can affect it.
What Makes Humor Subjective?
There can be countless factors that determine if humor is subjective or not.
Age group is a common determining factor of humor subjectivity. Those from younger age groups, like teenagers, are more likely to find humor in things that contains plenty of irony and sarcasm. However, older age groups will likely find more mature content funny.
Geographic location is another significant factor. Let’s compare American and British humor for a moment. Though these two countries share a language, popular humor can vary. Take, for example, dry British humor, which focuses on sarcasm and slang.
British humor may be funnier to folks who are used to that dry humor and wit. But to other audiences, this kind of humor may simply go over their heads.
Specific geographic locations also have different local puns that might not be easily understood elsewhere. In that case, it would be hard for a language-specific pun to be funny in another place where it has no relevance.
Humor can also be different for people with different interests. For example, an oddly-specific joke about programming or computers would likely be a hit with software developers. But it probably won’t have the same impact on a group of realtors.
#3. So, Is Comedy Subjective?
When it comes to the idea of humor, it can be hard to say for certain whether it is subjective or not. Many people argue that if humor isn’t subjective, then it is objective.
Subjectivity Versus Objectivity
If something is objective, it means that it is not based on individual experiences or beliefs. So it’s essentially the opposite of subjectivity.
Let’s look at a simple way to break down subjective versus objective.
Here’s an objective statement:
- George Washington was the first president of the United States.
And here’s an example of a subjective statement:
- The people of the United States were lucky to have George Washington as their first president.
The big difference between these two statements is the presence of an opinionated statement. The first is purely factual, while the second is more of a personal statement.
How Do We Know If Comedy Is Subjective?
So, now we get down to the idea of if comedy and humor are actually subjective. And the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.
Because the answer is yes… and no.
Many people consider humor subjective because not everyone finds the same jokes funny. What might make someone laugh hysterically could leave someone else with a sour taste in their mouth.
But there’s also a strong argument for the objectivity of humor.
There are many fundamental elements that come together to create something funny. For example, certain patterns and joke structures can objectively make a funny joke. But then it’s up to the individual to consider it funny.
What Does That Even Mean?
A great way to understand this idea is through the example of classical music. Most people agree that classical music has major historical and artistic significance. But even people that appreciate the structure of classical music don’t necessarily enjoy it.
It’s the same concept when it comes to comedy. Someone can appreciate great comedic structure without finding the punchline funny. But that doesn’t make it any less funny to those who find it humorous!
Understanding Your Audience
It all comes down to the audience of your comedy. Even if you tell a perfectly-structured joke utilizing dark humor, it might not have the same hilarious effect on listeners who prefer light humor.
That doesn’t mean your unique style of humor is wrong. It just means you didn’t tell it to the right audience.
Different people find different things funny. And that’s the underlying theme of this entire argument!
How To Be Funny All The Time
Want to appeal to more people? Focus on clean comedy. It attracts all audience types and is a great way to leave everyone laughing.
Here at Clean Comedians®, we use clean humor to ensure everyone has a good time. The best comedy is the kind that everyone can get on board with!
Humor and comedy are subjective and objective at the same time. And often, it’s up to the individual to determine if they find it funny or not.
Not all jokes need to be considered funny in an objective sense. Because the subjectivity of humor is what makes this art so unique and intriguing!
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.